A poem, of sorts, in which
new ≠ better & easier ≠ better &
analog ≥ digital ≥ analog
I exported my TBR from Goodreads and pulled up my library’s website.
Searching for each book, I record the call number and branch.
Creating a master list, I pause and ask myself:
What have I done?
Elegy for the Card Catalogue
Ipsa scientia potestias est –
I drink from the fount of wisdom
& worship the ancients in temples
of brick and iron and glass.
I bow at the shrine of the scroll –
varnished oak and polished brass –
seeking a parchment
to slake my earthy desires.
I rise and see the desecration.
The shrine in all its glory, deconsecrated;
replaced with a plastic box illuminated
within by harsh, unnatural light,
accommodating one supplicant at a time.
The rows and columns of neat, square drawers
representing the heavenly order in all things
are reduced to a curved glass screen
filled with garish icons.
The cards, typed in pleasing face and bound on steel rods,
formed the vertebrae of human thought.
Now zeroes and ones take their place,
removing the spine as a berserk of another age.
Once we were given a name and a number
and sent into the wilderness: the stacks.
Who knew what dangers lurked therein, what treasure we might find
by happy chance or unique coincidence?
And failing in our quest,
return to the shrine,
each attempt strengthening our faith
and knowledge of the ancient paths.
Now the path is beaten for us.
Behold the scroll you seek and the form it shall take;
another devotee possesses it and shall not return
until fourteen suns have crossed the sky.
One need not bother going to temple,
its wisdom dispersed for all to see
in the so-called comfort of their dwellings.
You shall not receive a blessing on this day;
stay home instead.
What has become of the shrine itself?
Sold at exorbitant prices so the common worshiper
has no hope of rescuing the reliquary from
willful repurposing and wanton destruction.
The vandals relish their depravity,
declaring their actions for the world to see,
instructing others in their heathen ways,
and proselytizing many in the process.
Weep, for the old days are gone; we shall not see their like again.
Sic transit gloria mundi